The Hot Stove Is On Fire

For baseball fans the days between the end of the World Series and the beginning of spring training are highlighted by one rumor after another of a potential trade or a possible free agent signing.  After a certain point you get desensitized to the daily reports of possible destinations for players to stay at or move to.  However when a big domino does fall it still sends a certain shockwave through a fans system.

Today, two of the biggest dominoes fell.  Since last July there have been dozens of reports on potential trade destinations for former AL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay spanning from the Bronx to southern California and all points in between.  Former Blue Jay General Manager J.P. Ricciardi failed to move Halladay at last years trade deadline because in his eyes potential teams did not “blow him away” with an offer. 

Apparently current Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has been “blown away” by an offer and according to numerous media outlets has tentatively agreed to move Halladay to the Philadelphia Phillies as part of a three team blockbuster trade that involves 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee winding up as a Seattle Mariner.  Toronto would receive top-level prospects from both Seattle and Philadelphia.  In addition to Halladay, the Phillies would end up with a couple of prospects from Seattle for Lee. 

Obviously the trade is a great one for Philadelphia as they’re getting one of the games elite pitchers in Halladay and have reportedly inked him to a three-year extension that will pay him $60 million between 2011-2013.  They did not have the same guarantee Lee would be on their roster past this upcoming season as he is set to become a free agent following 2010. 

Halladay should become even more dominant than he already was in the AL East where he was 17-10 with a 2.79 ERA, 208 strikeouts and nine complete games.  If past trends are any indication of future results (see C.C. Sabathia to Milwaukee in 2008 and Lee to Philadelphia in 2009), Halladay should win 20 or more games and the NL Cy Young award next year. 

For Seattle, they get another ace to go along with Felix Hernandez.  That 1-2 punch will obviously make them a force to be reckoned with in the AL West.  Having already signed Chone Figgins away from the division rival Angels, Seattle is letting it known they plan to be a contender next year.   

As for Toronto, congratulations, your team is officially in the toilet.  I say those words based on my personal belief that teams who are contenders get major leaguers in trades while teams in the toilet get prospects.  Even if they are highly touted prospects, they have not proven themselves on the major league level.  Only with the passage of time can we say if this is a good deal for the Blue Jays.  That being said, I will give them credit for getting something for Halladay instead of the nothing they would have gotten when he walked away as a free agent after 2010. 

The other big shoe to drop today was Boston’s signing of free agent pitcher John Lackey to a five-year deal worth between $80-$85 million.  This gives the Red Sox that all important third arm who they feel can match up with the Yankees big three of Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.  Personally, I have mixed feelings on this signing.  As someone who roots for anyone to take down the Yankees I am happy to see a top talent stay out of their grasp but as someone who roots for the Angels, I am extremely disappointed at the fact they’ve failed to re-sign both of their top free agents of this offseason. 

I can honestly say this is something I would not have predicted for the reigning AL West champions.  Although the signing of designated hitter Hideki Matsui away from the Yankees is a nice one, it doesn’t even began to cushion the blow of losing not one but two important pieces to their team not to mention the writing is on the wall that fan favorite Vladimir Guerrero will not be back. 

If recent history has shown us anything it’s that Angels owner Arte Moreno will do whatever it takes to put a contender on the field.  I have no doubt he and GM Tony Reagins have a plan in place but until it comes to fruition, today is undoubtedly a day of disappointment for halo fans.

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